LSU moves to sell former Earl K. Long site, clearing way for redevelopment

The LSU Board of Supervisors is expected to approve LSU’s request to sell the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site on Airline Highway, a move local officials say will clear the way for redeveloping the vacant property.

Technically, LSU’s Health Care Services Division wants the board to allow the state’s Division of Administration to handle the process of selling the property, which includes securing an appraisal and site survey of the boundary and advertising and gathering bids and contracts. In accordance with state law, the property would be sold for an amount approved by the state and LSU. The land was most recently appraised at nearly $1.7 million.

“This is positive news for us,” says J. Wesley Daniels, director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, which is legislatively authorized to purchase the property. “We’ve been waiting on a determination for the disposition of the site, and this allows us to move forward with the acquisition.”

The housing authority has tapped Coleman Partners Architects to develop a conceptual design and master plan for the redevelopment project, envisioned as a social and economic catalyst for north Baton Rouge. 

To pay for the planning and design services, EBRPHA has set aside $50,000 in funding, which comes from capital outlay dollars requested by state Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, in 2016. 

“My hope is to garner another $500,000 to help with the development of that plan and to actually start some construction,” Barrow says. “It’s frustrating how long these things take, but I’m glad we finally have some momentum.”

Daniels plans to reconvene stakeholders in the next 30 days and acquire the property within the next six months.

It’s been seven years since LSU and Our Lady of the Lake entered into a public-private partnership to manage the 14 acres of land. The hospital building and other adjacent structures were vacated and later demolished, leaving LSU with “no further use” for the mostly empty land, according to its request to the board.

However, there were holdups involving LSU transferring ownership of the property to EBRPHA that have since been resolved. HCSD plans to use the funds from the property sale to offset the cost of replacing a leaky roof on its administrative office building—a deferred maintenance issue first reported in 2014.

The Board of Supervisors will take up the matter at its meeting Friday. Read the full agenda here or skip to the property sale request on page 40.